ARSENAL vs LIVERPOOL
TOMORROW – 12.45PM SKY SPORTS
ARSENE Wenger is one of the most experienced managers in the Premier League, but the last few weeks must still have been pretty testing for him. The sale of Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona clearly hurt and with Samir Nasri heading off to Manchester City plus a couple of other departures over the summer, it will be a case of rebuilding for the Arsenal boss.
It was a fairly lacklustre start to the season at St James’ Park for the Gunners last weekend, but a point wasn’t a terrible result and they will have taken heart from their victory in midweek against Udinese. They certainly weren’t unbeatable at the Emirates last term, but generally the top sides are very difficult to beat at home.
Liverpool started with a disappointing 1-1 draw at home against Sunderland last weekend, but they should be in the battle for fourth spot this season, along with Arsenal and Tottenham. They effectively ended the Gunners’ title challenge last season due to an extremely late Dirk Kuyt equalising penalty. It was a demoralising blow for Arsenal and Wenger will be urging his side to forget about it before Saturday.
I don’t think there will be that much between these sides at the end of the season, but home advantage should count for plenty in this type of contest and the Gunners are worth backing at 2.71 on Betdaq. The draw is a definite runner, with six of the last eight league contests between these two ending in a stalemate, but Arsenal should just have the edge.
Analysis from Football Form Labs suggests there will not be anything to separate the sides at the break, though, as the Gunners have drawn the opening period in six of their last eight home games against top-six sides. The same is true in seven of Liverpool’s last nine visits to top-six opponents, so there seems plenty of value in backing the draw HT / Arsenal FT double result at 5/1 with William Hill.
There has only been one goal scored in Arsenal’s first two games this campaign across both competitions and I’d expect the defenders to dominate this encounter. There have been two or fewer goals in six of the last eight league meetings between these two and also in 12 of Liverpool’s last 17 away matches at top-six sides.
In terms of a correct scoreline, if pressed I’d probably go for a 1-0 home win, although a better bet is to sell total goals at 2.45 with Sporting Index.
SUNDERLAND vs NEWCASTLE
TOMORROW – 12.00PM
THE passionate fans of the North-East don’t have long to wait for their biggest game of the season this time around and if either side manages to claim all three points, it will be a massive morale booster. Newcastle, in particular, could be set for a long, tough season, especially with the recent Joey Barton episode. Their squad doesn’t look very strong to me and it will be interesting to see how Alan Pardew gets on over the first few weeks.
Steve Bruce has brought in quite a few players this summer and he will have been pleased with his side’s point at Anfield last weekend. The Black Cats probably have a better overall squad than Newcastle, but that’s not to say that it won’t be a hard season for them as well. Niall Quinn will be expecting a top ten finish at the very least and we’ve seen in the past that Bruce doesn’t always stick around if things start to go wrong.
This game is likely to be cagey and tactical in the early stages and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it was to be goalless at the break. The Magpies managed to beat their bitter rivals 5-1 at St James’ last October, but it is very rare to get big derby games like that. There have been three 1-1 draws in the last six meetings between the sides, but I fancy the Wearsiders to nick this and they are worth backing at 2.2 on Betdaq.
There have been under 2.5 goals in 10 of Sunderland’s last 18 home matches and the same is true in eight of Newcastle’s last 11 away games. The Magpies have also conceded first in six of their last eight away trips to top-half opponents, so I’m going to go with the 1-0 home win at 6/1 with William Hill. Spread bettors are advised to sell Sporting Index’s goals prediction at 2.4.
MANCHESTER UNITED vs TOTTENHAM
MONDAY – 8.00PM SKY SPORTS
MANCHESTER United started the season from where they left the last one at the Hawthorns last Sunday. It was not an altogether convincing performance but they got the job done and that is all that matters at this stage of the campaign. They’ve already opened up a gap on Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool, and we all know how strong they are at Old Trafford. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side dropped just two points last term, scoring 49 goals and conceding only 12 in those 19 games. United are 4/6 which actually isn’t a bad price at all.
Tottenham have yet to get their season started after their home game against Everton was called off last weekend and there isn’t a more difficult place to go for your opening game. They have lost their last five trips to Old Trafford and their last victory at the Theatre of Dreams was way back in 1989. Harry Redknapp would be absolutely delighted with a point, but I can’t see that happening with United having already won the Community Shield and their opening away fixture.
The Red Devils have won the first half in 17 of their last 20 home games, while Spurs have lost the first half in seven of their last 11 away matches against top-six sides. The North London side have also lost seven of their last 11 visits to top-six opposition, so the HT / FT United victory is worth backing at 7/5 with Paddy Power.